Monday, May 27, 2024

Nike’s Women’s Olympic Uniform for USA Track and Field Criticized for Being Too Revealing: The Controversy Explained

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Nike‘s new track and field uniforms for Team USA athletes at the 2024 Paris Olympics have ignited a debate on social media about what some critics have described as sexism in the design of performance wear after the brand debuted the kits on Thursday.

Below, learn more about the controversy and see how athletes are responding.

What do Nike’s track and field Olympic uniforms look like?

Sparks began to fly after track and field publication Citius Mag posted photos of the men’s and women’s uniforms — the latter of which features a French-cut leotard silhouette. The 2024 kits will retain their red base color, and are patterned with blue and white stripes, similar to those worn by Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

What are athletes saying?

American long jumper Tara Davis-Woodhall, who placed sixth during the Tokyo Games, commented on Instagram, “Wait my hoo haa is gonna be out.”

Meanwhile, U.S. hurdler and 2008 Olympian Queen Harrison Claye mocked the uniforms by tagging European Wax Center in the comments, asking “Would you like to sponsor Team USA for the upcoming Olympic Games?”

Team USA’s Anna Cockrell models Nike’s Paris 2024 track and field kit.

Nike

Paralympic runner Jaleen Roberts added, “This mannequin is standing still and everything’s showing… imagine MID FLIGHT.”

In an interview with Reuters, steeplechaser Colleen Quigley, a 2024 Team USA Olympic hopeful, said that the unitard is “absolutely not made for performance.”

Coach and retired track star Lauren Fleshman, who won five NCAA championships and two pro national championships, called the revealing garb “a costume born of patriarchal forces that are no longer welcome or needed to get eyes on women’s sports” in an Instagram post.

“Stop making it harder for half the population,” Fleshman continued.

Team USA's Athing Mu models Nike's Paris 2024 track and field kit, sportswear, Olympics, athlete

Team USA’s Athing Mu models Nike’s Paris 2024 track and field kit.

Still, athletes like pole vaulter Katie Moon have stepped up to defend Nike, explaining that all Team USA athletes have multiple uniform options to choose from.

“I want to be clear and start by saying that what was shown on the mannequin was concerning, and warranted the response it received,” Moon, an Olympic gold medalist who is sponsored by Nike, wrote on Instagram.

“We have at least 20 different combinations of a uniform to compete in with all the tops and bottoms available to us. We DO have the men’s option available to us if we want it,” she added. “When you attack the buns and crop top saying something along the lines of it’s ‘sexist’ (which if that was our only choice, it would be), you’re ultimately attacking our decision as women to wear it.”

Has Nike or Team USA responded?

In a statement to ABC News, Nike said the unitard is one of a “range of styles” that they offer for athletes to choose from. The brand said it “will also have tailoring options available for Olympic and Paralympic athletes at the games.”

Anna Cockrell at the Nike Air Innovation Summit on April 11 in Paris, sportswear, Olympics, track and field, Team USA, 2024, athlete

Anna Cockrell at the Nike Air Innovation Summit on April 11 in Paris.

WWD via Getty Images

USA Track & Field also issued its own statement to ABC News regarding the controversy, saying the outfits “are only two of many options, including 50 unique pieces, that athletes will be able to choose from for the upcoming Olympic Games.”

“Athlete options and choices were the driving force for USATF in the planning process with Nike,” the statement continued. “USATF is also aware that Nike consulted with athletes throughout the design process to ensure that all athletes are comfortable and that the uniforms are well-suited for their respective events.”

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